Needle Exchange Australian Prison
The chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory, Kelly Gallagher has announced a trial for a needle exchange program within prisons. The trial will involve prisoners exchanging dirty needles for clean needles under the supervision of medical professionals. Drug counselling and support will also be offered alongside the proposed needle exchange.
In a statement Katy Gallagher said that she believed it was ”worthwhile examining a model which has been put to me by doctors, which addresses access to clean injecting equipment if considered clinically appropriate".
The news of the trial has been applauded by healthcare professionals and the ACT Greens who have been calling for needle exchanges in prisons for years. The ACT Greens health and corrections spokeswomen on the news of the trial said “We can't bury our heads in the sand about this any longer.”
The Australian Medical Australia ACT branch welcomed the news but said that any program “needs to be free, it needs to be easy to access, it needs to be confidential, the people involved need to be protected in all senses’’.
The ACT Liberals however were critical of the plans with Jeremy Hanson (correction spokesman) saying that “We have a golden opportunity to break their cycle of drug dependency while they are in jail. A needle exchange simply condones and maintains their ongoing drug use and will see prisoners released with the same drug habits that led to their crimes."
A group that will include jail staff and health officials will decide how the scheme will work. If the trial is successful could mean an expansion to other states.